Nasrallah: Only alternative to deal with Iran is war

Hezbollah chief urges nuclear agreement with Tehran, says Netanyahu wants negotiations to fail to preserve Israel’s security

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in December 2011 (photo credit: AP/Bilal Hussein)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in December 2011 (photo credit: AP/Bilal Hussein)

Failure to reach a deal between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program could lead to a war in the Middle East, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday.

A successful conclusion of current talks over the disputed program however would strengthen the Islamic Republic and its allies in the region, said the Hezbollah head, whose terror group is backed by Iran and Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is doing everything he can to make the Iranian nuclear negotiations [in Geneva] with the P5+1 countries fail,” Nasrallah charged.

In a rare public appearance in south Beirut on the eve of the Ashoura holiday, commemorated by Shiite Muslims as a day of mourning for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, the terror chief said the Israeli prime minister was “furious [at the prospect of an agreement] and tried to obstruct an accord.”

Nasrallah has made few public appearances since his terror group fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 for fear of assassination by Israel. Nasrallah usually gives his speeches from secret locations and speaks through a television link.

Nasrallah further accused Netanyahu of “pushing for war” and of becoming a “spokesperson for several Arab countries” who are also “acting similarly to Israel and rejecting a political solution in Syria and any international accord with Iran.”

“Israel wants the US to attack Syria, Afghanistan and Iran to preserve its security,” he added.

“To all Arab peoples in the Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Oman: What is the alternative to an understanding between Iran and world leaders? It is regional war,” Nasrallah warned.

But, he went on, “any accord that prevents a war in the region is rejected by Israel.”

The terror chief praised Hezbollah’s ties with its “two allies only: Syria and Iran that have never abandoned us,” and warned of intervention in Lebanese affairs — a critique aimed at Saudi Arabia — in order to influence the outcome of the war in Syria.

Despite reported progress, the latest round of discussions between the P5+1 world powers — the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany — and Iran, conducted over the weekend in Geneva, ended without a deal after a proposed agreement was questioned by France. The sides are to meet again on November 20. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been bitterly critical of the emerging deal, and on Friday publicly urged Kerry not to sign it.

The six powers were considering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. In exchange, they demanded initial curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, including a cap on uranium enrichment to a level that cannot be turned quickly to weapons use.

Israel has strongly opposed any deal that would leave Iran with the capability to quickly construct a nuclear weapon, leading Netanyahu and other officials to publicly come out against what they saw as a flawed potential agreement over the weekend.

Iran, which denies any interest in nuclear weapons, currently runs more than 10,000 centrifuges that have created tons of fuel-grade material that can be further enriched to arm nuclear warheads. It also has nearly 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of higher-enriched uranium in a form that can be turned into weapons much more quickly. Experts say 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of that 20 percent-enriched uranium are needed to produce a single warhead.

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